Page 574


Scottish Fife and Forfar Yeomanry to apply the finishing touch to the fight for Humain. [13]


The ill-fated battle of the XLVII Panzer Corps in front of Dinant was ended. Luettwitz had new orders: his corps must make one final, all-out effort to take Bastogne, leaving a minimum force in the Rochefort area to guard its back. Across the lines, on 28 December, the 83d Infantry Division and the British 53d Division began to replace the 2d Armored Division combat commands. [14] By 31 December the 2d Armored was in billets, belatedly eating its Christmas dinner. During the brief operation east of the Meuse the 2d Armored Division had racked up a considerable tally: 1,213 prisoners taken, 82 tanks, 83 guns, and 441 vehicles captured or destroyed. The American losses in armor were light: 5 light tanks and 22 mediums. The fight had cost the 2d Armored Division and its attached units 17 killed, 26 missing, and 201 wounded-an illuminating commentary on the use by a veteran formation of the combined arms, the impossibility of striking power inherent in the piecemeal tactics employed by the enemy, the lack of a strong German artillery to counter the weight of metal always available to the Americans, and the complete absence of German attack planes in skies ruled by the American and British fighter-bombers.


The Fight at Verdenne


On the night of 4 December the 84th Infantry Division was deployed along an arc of some twelve miles reaching from Hogne, northwest of Marche, through Waha, south of Marche, thence bowing back to the northeast in front of the Marche-Hotton road. [15] On the right, the 4th Cavalry Group formed a screen masking the infantry line. The center at the moment was quiet, but on the left the 116th Panzer Division had broken through the outpost line and despite the successful American counterattack made late in the afternoon still held an entrant position at Verdenne.


The 116th Panzer faced a lone battle as it prepared to carry out the Fifth Panzer Army orders for attack westward. Thus far the fighting on its right in the sector east of the Ourthe River had not gone too well; neither the 2d SS Panzer nor the 560th Volks Grenadier Division managing to gain ground on the 24th. To the left the attention of the 2d Panzer was centered on Foy-Notre Dame and Celles far to the west. Nonetheless so long as Luettwitz' armor had any chance of breaking through to the Meuse the 116th had to continue its attack to breach the American defenses north of Marche and press forward as a covering shell for the drive to Dinant.


General Bolling knew that some Germans still were around Verdenne on the night of 24 December, but the 84th Division was unaware that the enemy had slipped on into the woods between Verdenne and Bourdon until a lucky fluke revealed the new threat. About


[13] CCR AAR, 27 Dec 4.


[14] 2d Armored still was in contact with the enemy on 8 December. Pvt. C. W. Dillingham was given the DSC for bravery in breaking through a defended roadblock with his tank; Pfc. F. S. Rose was given the DSC for crawling with a broken leg for one and a half miles through snow and cold to bring aid to his mortally wounded scout section leader after their jeep had hit a double Teller mine.


[15] Sources used in this section are the same as those cited in Chapter XVIII.